Slice of Cheese

PFD WSL: Round 9 Preview

Solstice Photography

After a week off for the Statewide Cup Semi Finals, the Super League returns for what looks an intriguing Round 9 featuring a number of fixtures that ought to be highly competitive games. With two of the three teams tied on 15 points in Ulverstone and Launceston meeting this week and other in Taroona playing the second placed Warriors, it could also be a week that sees some shuffling of places on the league table.

The round will begin on Friday night with the Hobart Zebras looking to claim the safari derby over the Kingborough Lions. In the African jungle the Lions may be top of the food chain but in the Super League it’s the Zebras who have the bigger claws and are clearly top dogs horses. They will be expecting to maintain top spot over a side they defeated 7-2 the last time they met back in Round 6; not that they had it all their own way in that game. For 45 minutes the Lionesses provided an almighty fright for the ladder leaders as they went into the sheds 2-1 ahead with a shock boil over on the cards. A second half surge led by a Danielle Kannegiesser hat-trick restored the normal order however as they smashed six second half goals but it’s at least half of a game that should give Kingborough some hope heading into such a difficult clash. On the larger and flatter surface of KGV the Zebras should enjoy themselves more and they will be expecting to claim the points under the Friday Night lights.

The Round is headlined by a big game on Saturday afternoon at Kelvedon as Taroona and Olympia meet for the first time since the Pirates knocked them off in the Summer Cup, with the sides yet to have met in the league this year. Taroona have shown significant improvement this season but have been unable to claim a big scalp in the season proper and their season runs the risk of being defined by an inability to get the job done against the sides above them on the table. Last week in the Statewide Cup Semi Final against Launceston City it was again a case of so near yet so far and they would risk falling some 12 points off the pace if they can’t claim that big win this week. It won’t be easy for them though with the Warriors continuing to chalk up the victories with a minimum of fuss and continue to add quality to their squad. With Rani Cavaretta still to come into the side and their pair of Japanese Imports the Warriors will be a tougher side than they were in that preseason clash between the sides. If there is one weakness in the Warriors side it’s that being such a young side they can get caught out physically and this combined with a furious forward press was the Pirates avenue to victory in the pre-season clash. They will need to follow that blueprint again on Saturday and look to apply pressure on the Warriors as they look to play out from the back.

Moving to Sunday and cue Willie Nelson, as Launceston City are on the road again, this time heading North to take on Ulverstone. This is the first of an extremely tough three week stretch for Ulverstone as they take on the competitions top three sides and it looms as a decisive period for them. Similar to Taroona they have beaten all the sides below them but come up short against the top sides. Narrow losses to Taroona and Olympia show they are near the mark but if they could get some results from this three week stretch suddenly the possibilities would open right up for them. With 9 of their final 11 games at home, they could get on a roll and really push for a finish right up the table. Much like the game of golf however, some things are a lot easier in theory and defeating this Launceston City side is going to be very tough. When they met last in the opening round they were smashed pillar to post in a 9-0 loss and after a tough few weeks City seem to be back to their best. They put in a fine display to defeat Taroona in the Statewide Cup Semi Final with their midfield stars Bygrave and Storay putting on an absolute masterclass. If they produce similar games here then it’s hard to see anything other than a City victory.

The round ends at Wentworth Park on Sunday as the bottom two sides Clarence and University clash in what represents a prime chance for both sides to claim points. Given the seeming divide in the league this game is massive for both sides with a genuine chance for three points on offer for both teams as they meet for the first time this season. The reasons both sides are down the bottom end of the table differ. Clarence have struggled to put the ball in the back of the net, whilst conversely University have struggled to keep it out. So what will give in this one? Can Clarence find an avenue to goal against a defence that has looked vulnerable, or will their struggles to score continue and allow the Students to not have to try chase down a cricket score?  University seem to be improving in recent weeks with an honorable 2-1 loss to Ulverstone and credible 3-0 defeat at the hands of Zebras in the past fortnight. The change in formation to a back five, or at times last week a back 9, has made them tougher to score on, but it does mean that the likes of Cropp and Young have less support in the final third. But by getting those extra bodies back they frustrated the Zebras and save for a keeping error they managed to shut out their more fancied opponents until very late in the game last week. The Reds meanwhile have struggled in possession this season and need to find a way to hold onto the ball and create scoring chances. Too often the defence has been put under pressure for long periods of game time and they eventually get worn down. Even though it remains the strongest area of their side, there is only so much they can do. This should be a very tight game and both sides know these are the matches they can get points from so they should be chomping at the bit for this one.

Round 9 Fixtures

Friday 26 May

Hobart Zebras v Kingborough, KGV, 6:00pm

Saturday 27 May

Taroona v Olympia, Kelvedon Park, 2:00pm

Sunday 28 May

Ulverstone v Launceston City, Ulverstone, 2:00pm

Clarence v University, Wentworth Park, 4:00pm

FFT Media and Communications Coordinator, Everton tragic, long form journalism devotee, Andrea Pirlo enthusiast and admirer of the parked bus.